We have all been through traumatic and unpleasant experiences but surely there is one thing we agree on and that is that vomiting is one of the most unpleasant things we have ever been through. Vomiting does not always lead to being sick , as it is a natural reaction of the body when it feels that there is something ‘bad’ inside our stomach.
Although this is not a dish of good taste for anyone, there is a small percentage of the population (an estimated 5% of the world population), who feel an intense fear of vomiting and everything that entails ending this catastrophic way. This phenomenon is called emetophobia , a very specific phobia that will be discussed during this article.
WHAT IS EMETOPHOBIA?
Emetophobia is a type of psychological condition found within specific anxiety disorders . Like the rest of the phobias, it is characterized by an irrational and deep fear towards an object, person or situation that affects the person.
In this particular case, there is an exaggerated and uncontrollable fear of any situation related to vomiting and, out of fear of this, there are people who may change their diets, avoid eating or pregnancy so as not to have any risk of suffering. nausea or vomiting.
It is not something that disappears from one day to the next since it is not only related to the person vomiting , but it is also affected by the fact that other people vomit , nausea or hearing the word ‘vomit’.
There is no common profile , although it is estimated that of that 5% of the total population with emetophobia, 80% are women and it is independent of age or origin. The only common characteristic that these people have is an anxious personality and that when they are in hospitals, health centers or surrounded by sick people, their level of nervousness and tension increases for fear that they may end up vomiting.
Although many people find it an absurd fear or consider that it is something exaggerated since we all vomit and it causes us all a feeling of discomfort, for emetophobic people it represents a significant danger to their health , since they modify their diet and sometimes, it can arrive to cause anorexia by not ingesting the necessary food.
WHAT ARE YOUR CAUSES?
Although a task link text difficult to specify the exact cause of a phobia, in the case of emetophobia is believed to be due to the experience of unpleasant situations or bad experiences as having undertaken a stomach virus in the past.
Although this is the main cause, the existence of other causes that the person associates with dramatic or traumatic situations is not denied , which makes researchers think that there may also be a genetic predisposition or that it is due to learning by imitation , for example, that one of your parents has emetophobia and you acquire that same phobia just for having lived with it.
WHAT SYMPTOMATOLOGY DOES IT PRESENT?
Emetophobia shares the same clinical picture as the rest of the phobias or anxiety disorders . We can divide the symptoms into:
Physical symptoms . An overactivation of the nervous system occurs as a consequence of any stimulus related to vomiting. Some characteristic physical symptoms are increased breathing, a feeling of shortness of breath, sweating, dizziness , headache, nausea or vomiting, and even loss of consciousness.
Cognitive symptoms . It is characterized by a set of thoughts, beliefs or imaginations about possible dangers or damages that the simple act of vomiting can cause. These deformed thoughts arise in an uncontrollable and irrational way and to this, a series of mental images are added that make fear increase.Behavioral symptoms . The main behaviors observed are avoidance or escape. The first tries to avoid all the behaviors that cause vomiting , as said above, the person may stop eating, eat very slowly or select foods. In the second, the escape will occur when the emetophobic person has not been able to avoid a risky situation, so they will look for different ways to escape from that situation as soon as possible.
IS THERE ANY SPECIFIC TREATMENT?
There are many psychological therapies that can be effective, although the one that has the best results is cognitive-behavioral therapy . This therapy is made up of three different performances. The first part consists of a cognitive restructuring to modify the person’s distorted beliefs and thoughts . It is followed by the use of systematic desensitization whereby the person gradually copes with the stimulus and this can be directly or indirectly through imagination. Finally, all this is accompanied by an improvement in relaxation skills that allow a decrease in the levels of excitement of the nervous system and allows the emetophobic person to face the risk situation that, in this case, would be vomiting.
Although cognitive-behavioral therapy is the one that offers the best results, there are cases in which emetophobia is very annoying and even dangerous for the person who suffers from it, so a psychological intervention , beyond the aforementioned therapy, would be advisable to that diminishes the intensity of the symptoms to the point of making them disappear. Hypnotherapy is also very common.
Just as we have therapies that are effective, we also have wrong treatments . This is due to misinformation about this type of phobia, which is classified as ‘other’, which causes doctors to diagnose emetophobia as an eating disorder or an obsessive-compulsive disorder.
10 FUN FACTS ABOUT EMETOPHOBIA
- The fear of vomiting is related to the fear of losing control . The main fear is that you cannot control your own body or that vomiting lasts forever.
- Not without your safety gear . This kit includes antacids, mints, bags for seasickness, and hearing aids to escape risky situations.
- They drink alcohol in small amounts or avoid it altogether for fear of possible hangovers , nausea, or end up vomiting.
- The texture of some foods causes nausea . Some emetophobes avoid eating something that is raw at all costs or thoroughly inspect each food before eating it.
- They may avoid going outside for fear of contracting a stomach virus.
- Makes socializing difficult . Many people with emetophobia avoid eating out for fear of vomiting in public, the food from the chosen place or the cleanliness of the restaurant.
- They avoid traveling . This is as a consequence of fear of possible dizziness and if they travel, they try to be as close to home in case they have to return at any time.
- They avoid being around people with the flu . When someone you love has the flu , it is very difficult for you to take care of them because your first impulse is to quarantine yourself and away from the person with the flu.
- For others, caring for a loved one is a challenge . For some people with emetophobia, being parents has helped a lot to reduce or disappear their phobia. The parental instinct is stronger than any fear.
- It is not a disorder forever . Many of these people are able to leave their phobia behind thanks to therapies or medications that reduce their panic attacks .